2 min read

The Limitations of Unlimited Time Off

By Jeff Schiefelbein on June 29, 2022

Sometime during the recent work-from-home transition, I came to view our unlimited time off policy differently. From the beginning of 5, we always took the approach that our employees were fully formed adults and therefore they could be trusted to manage their own time off without onerous rules and restrictions.

As early adopters of this approach, we proved skeptics wrong and found that our team members were enjoying the freedom afforded by this policy and owning the associated responsibility. 5ers were taking time off for vacations, showing up for their kids’ school events, weaving doctor visits and the occasional person needs into their workdays, and enjoying maternity and paternity leaves with the arrival of each new life. As a foundational part of our culture, unlimited time off was one of those perks that did not need regular attention.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. As our workforce transitioned to completely remote work, we started meeting over video in each other’s living rooms, kitchen tables, and home offices. As the pandemic progressed, we saw the emotional toll that this new way of work was having on our team members. Like countless other organizations, the line between work and home for many 5ers became blurred, which contributed to employee burnout.

When the line that divides home from work is porous, there is a temptation to keep working with an inability to know when to shut down for the evening. Even those who worked remotely before the pandemic would affirm that the lack of a daily commute makes it difficult to bring the workday to a natural conclusion. This work-from-home transition has forced us to question what taking time off really means, especially in a culture with an unlimited vacation policy. Similarly, many 5ers are also having to adjust their own understanding of what time off looks like when one predominantly works from home.

We have been asking ourselves many questions with this new working paradigm. Are employees really taking enough time off and shutting down when working from home? Would employees be more intentional about stepping away from work if there were a set number of vacation days that were allotted each year? Would there be any improvements in employee wellness if there were a mandatory minimum number of days off employees were required to take? Or would these minimums create a feeling of top-down control? There are no simple answers to these questions.

When we first created our unlimited time off policy, our intention was to create a program that recognized the employees’ individual needs and rewarded their efforts in whatever way worked best for them. Now we must ask ourselves if a policy change would help us to achieve the same result or if there will be a natural return to normal work and normal time off as the working world rebalances. Our premise that 5ers are fully formed adults and should be able to determine the amount of vacation time that is appropriate has not changed. However, the way we work today is very different from the way it was before the pandemic, and it makes sense to re-evaluate what time off really means. We encourage other organizations to do the same and make employee wellness and resiliency a top priority.

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Topics: Culture
2 min read

Same Swagger, New Swag

By Jeff Schiefelbein on May 31, 2022

The Conscious Evolution of Our Company Swag

With so many industry and company changes over the past decade, one aspect of 5 has remained the same – our love for this great team and our desire to share it.

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Topics: Culture
1 min read

Little Red Helicopters, Kindness, & Math

By Jeff Schiefelbein on April 29, 2022

This month we are taking a break from sharing our own culture corner insights to spotlight the inspiring work of James Rhee and his TED Talk about The Value of Kindness at Work.

James recently appeared on Brene Brown’s "Dare to Lead" podcast and his fresh approach to goodwill encourages us all to find out how we can build great businesses with lots of little red helicopter moments.

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Topics: Culture Education
1 min read

Get to Know Julia Smith

By 5 on April 29, 2022

Time flies when you have great people like Julia Smith on the team, it's hard to believe her one-year anniversary is just weeks away.

Take a moment to learn more about Julia’s deregulated power journey and her fun nickname from her days as a collegiate soccer player.

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Topics: People Culture
1 min read

Get to Know Andrea Marín

By 5 on March 31, 2022

Meet Andrea Marín, 5's General Director in Mexico. Andrea leads the team that helps clients navigate the energy market in Mexico. Andrea and her team work closely with clients to manage their energy costs and to help them meet their organization's sustainability goals. Find out how Andrea leads our efforts to help our clients in Mexico.

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Topics: People Culture
2 min read

Caring for Caregivers (aka Your Employees)

By Jeff Schiefelbein on March 31, 2022

One of the most striking insights that I gained through the work-from-home shift of the last two years is realizing how many employees are engaged in caregiving for their loved ones on a regular basis. Even though this phenomenon existed long before the pandemic, we are now so comfortable sharing our cameras on video calls from home that we often end up sharing more about our daily struggles and needs as well.

When an employee is caring for a loved one, they often share the effects of caregiving, which include: 

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Topics: Culture Education
2 min read

The Beyond Zero Texas Tour

By Jeff Schiefelbein on February 28, 2022

A Special Opportunity for Texas Educators to Teach Sustainability

The feature-length documentary film, Beyond Zero, tells the story of Ray Anderson and his visionary leadership as the founder and CEO of Interface, a publicly-traded company in the carpet tile industry. In 1989, Ray had a conversion of heart and vowed to take Interface on a journey to become a sustainable enterprise in every way possible. He was ahead of his time in many ways and his heroic leadership is truly a model for companies that are aiming for true stakeholder impact. The best part about Beyond Zero is that it is not only inspirational and entertaining, but it also moves people into action.

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Topics: Culture Sustainability Education

5’s Stakeholder Map

By Jeff Schiefelbein on January 27, 2022

5’s Stakeholder Map highlights our focus on impacting each of our stakeholders and fulfilling our mission to Help People

As practitioners of Conscious Capitalism, we value the interdependent nature of our stakeholders and the human foundations of all business. Our Stakeholder Map provides the visualization of the win-win-win approach and the symbiotic nature of our stakeholder mentality. 5 is the place where Energy is Made Human.

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Topics: Culture
2 min read

5X – Celebrating Our First 10

By Jeff Schiefelbein on December 21, 2021

As our company recently celebrated 10 years of industry-changing impact, the entire team presented the Founding 5ers with one of the most thoughtful and energizing gifts to recognize this important milestone, the 5X Yearbook. Starting with a letter from employee number one, Cady Thomas, and continuing through each year with letters from the entire team in start-date order, this hardcover masterpiece shares the individual journeys and gratitude of each 5er. The reflections are complemented by over 300 pictures of special moments in 5’s history, from surprise events at our annual All Hands meetings to personal photos spotlighting 5’s impact in each of our lives.

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Topics: Culture
2 min read

Beyond Zero: A Sustainability Gamechanger

By Jeff Schiefelbein on November 30, 2021


“If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” Ray Anderson, Founder of Interface.

Throughout the evolution of any great company, there are hallmark moments that define each new chapter. These experiences often serve as fuel for the company’s new trajectory and become a reference point for the team’s future work and ultimate impact. Our team experienced one of these catalyzing moments in mid-November during a screening of Beyond Zero that concluded with a live Q&A with the film’s writer and director, Nathan Havey.

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Topics: Culture Sustainability Education Renewables Resiliency
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